Silky smooth on the cymbals, perfect timing, and immeasurable humor. All describe the late great Jake Hanna, the Adams Corner-born jazz-drummer who passed away earlier this year. Consistently lauded by all who have played with him or just simply listened, Mr. Hanna’s death left a wound in the jazz music community, one that friends say can only be healed with music.
On Aug. 8, beginning at 2 p.m., the Jake Hanna Hometown Celebration, a free event, will be healing in full swing, literally, at Florian Hall. The event will include stories and remembrances of Mr. Hanna’s influential life, and, of course, it will also have music – lots of it.
Performers will include saxophonist Harry Allen, guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Joel Forbes, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, cornet player Randy Reinhart, trumpeter Warren Vache, and Joe Ascione who will be playing one of Mr. Hanna’s drum sets. Mr. Hanna played with each of these performers and mentored many of them as well. According to the Jake Hanna website, jakehanna.com, Allen refers to him as “one of the most important and influential people in my life and career.”
Born on April 4, 1931, Mr. Hanna hit the ground drumming early on, joining St. Brendan’s Drum and Bugle Corps when he was eight years old. By age 13 he had begun to fill spots in local bands as well as play for the Dorchester High School for Boys band. After a stint in the Air Force, where he played in a service band, he took to his drumming fulltime.
He was the house drummer at Storyville in Boston in the ‘50s and ‘60s. During that time he also studied at Berklee School of Music. In 1957, after his studies, he joined Toshiko Akiyoshi’s trio at the Hickory House in New York, then, in 1962, he began a two-year stint with the Woody Herman Orchestra before spending 10 years in the big band of the Merv Griffin Show. Mr. Hanna was also a member of Bing Crosby’s quartet, which toured worldwide.
Mr. Hanna did studio work throughout the years as well, recording many albums for Concord Jazz, his label, including the 1975 Grammy nominee, Live at Concord.
According to his niece, Maria Judge, Mr. Hanna hadn’t lived in Boston since the ‘50s, but he remained loyal to his hometown, attending Dorchester OFD (Originally From Dorchester) reunions and staying faithful to Boston’s sports teams. He was buried last February in Cedar Grove Cemetery.